When I arrived there, there were a number of, maybe 20, 30 children, the corpses of children, lined up outside the government hospital, hair matted, still in their night clothes. The bomb that killed them was dropped at 1:00 in the morning. And they ran out of plastic bags. They were trying to put the children in plastic bags, their corpses, and they would put on it, you know, “Abbas Mehdi, aged seven,” and so and so, aged one, and use a kind of sticking tape on it. But then they ran out of plastic bags, so they had to put the children’s corpses in a kind of cheap carpet that you can buy in the supermarkets, and they roll them up in that and then put their names on again. I was having to go around very carefully and write down, from the Arabic, their names and their ages. It would just say “Abbas Mehdi, aged seven, Qana.”
And, of course, every time I saw the “Qana,” I remember that I was actually in Qana ten years ago when the massacre occurred there then. This is the second massacre in the town whose inhabitants believe that this is the place where Jesus turned water into wine in the Bible…
The Lebanese soldiers were trying take down the names of all who had died, but I found a man with a clipboard who had taken down 40 names, and he said that they weren’t accurate, because some of the children were blown into bits and they couldn’t fit them together accurately and there might be — they couldn’t put the right head on the right body, and therefore they might not be able to have an accurate list of the dead. But he was doing his best in the circumstances of war to maintain the bureaucracy of government.
One by one the children’s bodies were taken away from the courtyard of the government hospital on the shoulders of soldiers and hospital workers and were put in a big refrigerated truck, very dirty, dusty truck, which had been parked just outside the hospital. The grownups, the adult dead, including twelve women, were taken out later. The children were put in the truck first. Pretty grim. As I said, the children’s hair, when you could see the bodies, were matted with dust and mud. And most of them appear to have been bleeding from the nose. I assume that’s because their lungs were crushed by the bomb, and therefore they naturally hemorrhaged as they died.
Fisk discusses the CYA video footage released by Israel and what is to come as the interview continues. Read More…
Fisk on the video footage released by Israel.
I’ve seen the video footage. It’s impossible to tell from the footage if indeed this is from Qana. You know, you have to realize that last time the massacre occurred at Qana in 1996, when they killed 106 refugees who were sheltering in the then-UN base that was there — it doesn’t exist anymore, but it did then — more than half of them children, again. They said that missiles had been fired from within the UN base. It turns out that they were fired from half a mile away. They then said that they didn’t have a live time pilot-less aircraft over the UN base at the time. And, in fact, on the Independent, I found a UN soldier who did have a videotape, showing clearly at the time of the bombardment — this is in 1996 — a live time photo reconnaissance unmanned aircraft over the base. The Israelis were later forced to admit that they had not told the truth: indeed there was a machine over the base at the time. You know, you can do what you want with photo reconnaissance pictures and with photographs after the event. It’s interesting that we weren’t shown these pictures before the massacre. We were only shown them after the massacre.
But they may be correct. The Hezbollah are firing missiles from villages in southern Lebanon, just as, for example, when the Israelis entered southern Lebanon and go into places like Bent Jabail, they’re using civilian houses as cover for their tanks, so the Hezbollah use houses as cover for their missile launching. But the odd thing is the idea that for the Israeli military that somehow it’s okay to kill all these children; if a missile is launched 30, 90 feet from their house, that’s okay then. We’ve got some film to show the missiles were launched; that’s okay then. I mean, did the aircraft which dropped this bomb, a guided weapon, by the way — they knew what they were hitting. It’s a guided weapon. We know that because the computer codes have been found on the bomb fragments. Did they say, “Oh, well, then, the man who launched the missile is hiding with the children in the basement of the house we’re going to hit”? Is it the case now that if you happen to live in a house next to where someone launches a missile, you are to be sentenced to death? Is that what Israel thinks the war is about?
It’s quite clear from listening to the IDF statement today that they believe that family deserved to die, because 90 feet away, they claim, a missile was fired. So they sentenced all those people to death. Is that what we’re supposed to believe? I mean, presumably it is. I can’t think of any other reason why they should say, “Well, 30 meters away a missile was fired.” Well, thanks very much. So those little children’s corpses in their plastic packages, all stuck together like giant candies today, this is supposed to be quite normal, this is how war is to be waged by the IDF.
Fisk on what we shall reap.
On the ground, when you’re here, when you see the wounded, see the dead, you realize the immorality, the obscenity, the atrocity of statesmen, as they think they are, claiming that, you know, it isn’t yet time for a ceasefire. A hasty ceasefire would not be a good thing, as Condoleezza Rice said. 24 hours before, I saw a picture of her on a beach in Malaysia. And people remember this. People remember this. In the hospital it was a young man who said — turned to me, he said, “Why have you done this to us? Why have you done this to us?” And the woman I was talking to said the same: “Why does the West want to do this to us?”
You know, this has been going on for more than two weeks now. I’m traveling around the south, increasingly outraged at what I see, as a human being. And I’m not a Muslim. I’m not a Muslim. And I keep saying to myself, “If I was a Muslim, how much more outraged might I be?” I turned to an American friend of mine tonight back in Beirut before I came home, and I said, “You know, I’ve been watching this now for more than two weeks, and there’s going to be another 9/11.” There’s going to be another 9/11, and then we’re going to hear all the usual claptrap about how it’s good versus evil, and they hate us because we’re good and democratic, and they hate our values, and all the other material that comes out of the rear end of a bull that your president and my prime minister talk.